Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic/Tennis Canada

On Monday, Tennis Canada announced that Leylah Annie Fernandez (Laval, QC), Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC), Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON), Françoise Abanda (Montreal, QC), and Carol Zhao (Richmond Hill, ON) will represent Team Canada presented by Sobeys in the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers against Latvia. For the first time since 1996, the Billie Jean King Cup is returning to Vancouver, British Columbia, and will take place at the Pacific Coliseum from April 15-16.

“We are thrilled to be playing in Canada for our tie against Latvia,” said Team Canada captain Heidi El Tabakh. “It will be the first home tie for some of the girls on the team, including myself. We are really pleased with the team we were able to put together, and are confident that Leylah, Gabriela, Rebecca, Françoise, and Carol will give it all they’ve got to secure the win for Canada and qualify for the Billie Jean King Cup Finals.”

“The athletes competing in the Billie Jean King Cup are brimming with talent. They are elite competitors and are passionate. Canadians can’t wait to see them perform,” said the Honourable Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. “These athletes are an immense source of pride. They inspire us all, youth in particular, to live a more active life. Our government wishes all the participants the best of luck.”

Photo: Mauricio Paiz/Tennis Canada

Fernandez, who skyrocketed up the WTA rankings since her last Billie Jean King Cup tie in Serbia (now sitting at No. 21) last April, is joining the Canadian team for the fourth time in her career. She’s won her last three matches at the Billie Jean King Cup – a shock upset over then-world No. 5 Belinda Bencic back in 2020 and a couple of gutsy, three-set victories against Serbians Olga Danilovic and Nina Stojanovic. Fresh off of her second WTA Tour-level title in Monterrey, Fernandez will be full of confidence heading into Vancouver.

“I’m really excited to be playing at this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers,” said Fernandez. “I always have so much fun playing at these ties and I’m excited to finally be able to do it on home soil. Wearing the Canadian colours on court is always an honour and I can’t wait to do it in front of a Canadian crowd.”

On top of having Canada’s top-ranked singles player, the team will also be with their most lethal doubles player. Dabrowski is currently ranked No. 9 in doubles on the WTA Tour and reached a career-high ranking No. 5 last October. Having made her debut in 2013, the Ottawa native has gone on to compete in 16 ties and holds an 8/7 record in doubles in Billie Jean King Cup action.

Photo: Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada

Also joining the team is world No. 123 and proud Vancouverite, Marino. She will be playing in her ninth Billie Jean King Cup tie, which will also be her first tie in Canada. Fittingly, Marino will be making her Canadian debut in her hometown. Marino was heavily relied on in last year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals, playing in four of Canada’s six matches. Marino was just crowned champion of a Challenger event in California.

While Marino is awaiting her home-tie debut, Abanda will be making her fifth appearance at a Canadian tie and her eighth all-time. Abanda always brings her A-game when she plays for Canada and has an impressive 7-4 record in singles at the Billie Jean King Cup. Her most recent win came in the 2021 Finals against Fiona Ferro, a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory that helped Canada take down France, the 2019 champions.

Photo: Martin Sidorjak/Tennis Canada

Rounding out the team is 26-year-old Zhao, who will be playing in her fifth Billie Jean King Cup tie. Zhao has a 2-3 record at the Billie Jean King Cup, and both of her wins came in doubles alongside compatriot Dabrowski. So far this season, she has already claimed a title in doubles at an ITF event in Cancun, Mexico.

Canada and Latvia will go head-to-head for the very first time. Canada is currently ranked No. 9 in Billie Jean King Cup competition, and Latvia is No. 14. The teams’ rosters will be announced later in March.

The winner of the tie will qualify for the 2022 Finals in November. This year, 18 countries will compete in the qualifying event. At the inaugural Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November 2021, Canada posted one win and one loss in the round-robin stage.

Tickets are on sale now!

Tickets for the showdown between Canada and Latvia on April 15 and 16 are now on sale. To get your 2-day discount packages to the Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers in Vancouver, please click here. Individual tickets will be going on sale next Tuesday, March 15.